Top ten rules to develop an appropriate IEP
1. Start early — Don’t expect to develop a proper IEP by beginning your preparation on the day of the IEP meeting. A comprehensive evaluation is an essential component in developing a proper IEP. If the Local Educational Agency (LEA) (the school district, charter school or other public educational agency serving the child) has not completed a truly comprehensive Evaluation Report, the parent should request an Independent Educational Evaluation or demand that the LEA conduct a complete evaluation.
2. Accurately identify the student’s Present Educational Levels in every area — academic, emotional, behavioral, social and physical — which impacts the creation of a proper IEP. These PELs should address not only weaknesses, but also strengths of the child, so that those strengths can be used to develop strategies to address areas of weakness.
3. Goals — Identify goals for each area in which the child needs Specially Designed Instruction or Related Services. The goals must identify a specific, measurable result for the child to achieve at the end of the IEP period (with the assistance of the educational team).
4. Progress monitoring — Most children with special needs require progress monitoring more often than quarterly report cards. Frequent progress monitoring is essential in assessing areas of a student’s weaknesses.
5. Specially Designed Instruction — Students are entitled to Specially Designed Instruction based upon peer-reviewed research wherever practicable. Such instruction must be designed to allow the child to make meaningful educational progress in the least restrictive environment, i.e., a placement involving the maximum level of integration with non-disabled students in which the child can receive appropriate instruction.
6. Related Services — IDEA requires that Related Services be based upon peer-reviewed research wherever practicable. These Related Services may include not only the typical services seen in many IEPs, but also, where necessary, for a child to receive FAPE, psychological services, parent training, recreational therapy and any other unique form of intervention necessary to allow the student to make meaningful educational progress, such as music therapy, recreation therapy or art therapy.
7. Supports for school personnel — These supports may include training for teachers and aides, the use of a therapeutic support staff or other aides, a personal care assistant, itinerant teacher support in the regular education classroom and distribution of IEPs and Evaluation Reports to all school personnel.
8. Extended school year — Although typically utilized to prevent regression over summer months, it is also available under IDEA for students who fail to make adequate progress during the school year or the school day.
9. Placement — A child’s placement must be in the least restrictive environment in which the child can make meaningful educational progress, and a full continuum of services must be available to ensure that the placement necessary to allow a child to make appropriate progress will be available.
10. Transition — IDEA now requires that transition services be based upon appropriate assessments which are designed to determine a student’s transition needs and that the IEP include appropriate annual goals to meet the transition needs of every student who will be aged 16 or older during the term of the IEP.